Two months ago I started dating my partner and his dog, a 6 year old Labrador. When I first met her she was excited, happy, and licked me all over. She was happy around everyone; we took her on trips where she met strangers and loved them. One day at random she barked and growled at a male friend (a stranger to her), which was out of the ordinary for her personality. I thought she was just moody. Then she's herself again, happy and loving

The real estate came to show new tenants the house and she wouldn't let the man into her yard

Now, a few weeks later, she's moved to my house on some land with my partner and I. Suddenly, she wont tolerate anyone; she growls at my parents, my sister, and my friends. She acts scared and growls and runs away. This is totally not like her. I'm frustrated because of her dramatic attitude change, five weeks ago she was playing with strangers. I know moving can be traumatic. Can someone please give me some advice and tips and tricks? It would help me out!

2 Answers 2


Firstly, I think that a vet trip is in order, just to make sure that everything is okay and that she is healthy and not in pain.

Next, I think it would be wise to examine the dog's living conditions. Is the dog an inside dog that has now become an outside dog? Is the dog still being played with? Is the dog getting an amount of exercise that's right for it, and leaves it happily tired out?


I agree with the answer from rlb.usa that she might be in pain. Additionally, she might be unsettled by the change in her relationship with her owner caused by your relationship with her owner.

You are basically a new member of the pack, so the hierarchy was disturbed. You boyfriend might interact with her differently or maybe less than usual, which unsettles her more. Then add the move into a new house. That's all very stressful for a dog.

For a dog, our human world is very complex and chaotic. If she has the feeling that her owner is no longer asserting his dominance, she might feel obliged to become the pack leader herself. Have a look at this answer to get an idea why this might cause aggressive behavior and what to do against it.

Then I advice you to buy a crate for the dog, if you don't have one yet. The crate must be big enough for her to stand up and lay down comfortably in and it must have a pillow or blanket to be a comfortable place for her.

This will become her safe haven. Her crate is her place alone, you don't go in there. The crate should always be associated with positive feelings, so you may sit down and pet her in the crate and give her treats. She must never be scolded or reprimanded while being in her crate.

Then start training with her:

  1. Get her used to being locked into the crate.
  2. She should sleep in the crate every day.
  3. Train with her to send her into the crate by command.
  4. Whenever she growls at someone or shows bad behavior, send her into the crate and lock her in.
  5. Invite your neighbors onto your property but explain that your dog might growl. If she does growl, lock her into the crate.
  6. Depending on her behavior, you can let her out of the crate after 10-20 minutes (give her time to calm down) or after your visitors left.

This approach was recommended to us by a professional dog psychologist / dog whisperer. Our dog was mistreated as a puppy and badly socialized. He is extremely insecure when interacting with humans, which often turns into aggression. It's a great way to give him time to process what's going on around him and see that the visitors are no danger to the pack.

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